The Israeli healthcare system, both in the public and the private sector, is of a world class standard, and you should have little difficulty in finding suitable dental and ophthalmic care during your stay in the country. For both eye care and dental care, some treatments are offered under the health fund system. We will look at some of your options below.
How to register with a dentist
If you are looking to register with a dentist, then you may want to ask friends or colleagues for their recommendations. Alternatively, you could simply access your local private clinic.
If you want to stick with the public system, then your health fund provider may offer discount plans at their local dental clinic. Registration with a health fund provider is mandatory in Israel, so it’s worth checking whether this might be a good option for you.
Your dentist should be a member of the Israeli Dental Association, whether they are in the health fund sector or at a private practice. They should be happy to provide evidence of qualifications and accreditation.
To what extent does national insurance cover dentistry?
National insurance in Israel, which is otherwise comprehensive, does not cover dental treatment. The country’s four public healthcare funds (Kupot Cholim) operate for-profit dental clinics around the country. Each of these clinics are run under the aegis of a specific fund and have their own separate price lists.
Essentially, they function as private providers, although they may still be relatively low cost, due to the size of the patient pool. The health fund clinics offer their own supplementary insurance plans, which may include free and/or discounted dental treatments and services, such as one free annual checkup with X-rays.
At these clinics, under national insurance, free treatment is offered to children under the age of 12. Some health basket dental services may also be free or discounted for patients under the age of 16.
The health fund clinics tend to focus on treating dental problems rather than on preventing them.
Accessing private dental treatment
Israel has a wide range of private provision for dental care, and you will have no difficulty in finding a suitable clinic. As above, ask for attestations and proof of qualifications if you feel that you need to do so. Asking friends and colleagues for recommendations is also advisable.
In the private sector, you can choose your own dentist, which is not always the case in the public sector. You may not get the same dental practitioner each time in your health fund clinic, and staff turnover is high. This is because newly qualified dentists tend to work in the public sector before moving on to more lucrative private practices, once they have gained experience. You are also likely to have more time with a private dentist than with one who works in a busy public clinic.
Dental tourism is a growing industry in Israel, due to highly qualified personnel, clinical equipment that is on a par with that found in the States and Europe, and highly competitive prices (especially when compared to the USA).
A dental exam with X-rays is likely to cost you in the region of ILS 200 to ILS 300 (US$55 to US$80). Some other sample costs are:
• Whitening: around $600
• Metal crown and implant: from $750
• Ceramic crown: from $900
• Porcelain veneer: from $700
• Root canal treatment: $200 to $850
Expats report that costs can be up to 50% lower in Israel than in the USA. Some travel companies will arrange treatment as part of a package, combined with flights, accommodation, and tours of the Holy Land. Remember that you may need follow-up appointments and may not be able to get everything done in one session.
How to register with an optometrist in Israel
You can ask friends and colleagues for recommendations to help you find an optometrist, or you can simply go into your local optometrist. Do not be afraid to shop around, as prices can vary.
Optometrists (who function as vision care specialists in Israel, rather than as eye doctors) must be accredited via a license from the Ministry of Health (Misrad Habriut) and have at least a B. Optom. Bachelor’s degree. Contact the Israel Council of Optometry (ICO) for more information, if you need it.
To what extent does national insurance cover optical care?
The health basket will cover some forms of eye surgery, for medical conditions such as cataracts and strabismus, but you will need to contact your own health fund first to obtain pre-approval. The funds will also cover laser surgery in some cases, such as for glaucoma, but you will need a referral from your ophthalmologist.
Some insurers offer discounts of up to 50% on glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses at participating stores. Check with your health fund to see which plans cover eye care and to what extent. All the four main funds cover eye treatment to some degree, but they may not cover elective or cosmetic treatment – for this, you will need to access the private sector.
Accessing private eye treatment
Ophthalmic care, like dentistry, is of a high standard in Israel. Hospitals, such as the Department of Ophthalmology at Herzliya Medical Center, offer treatment for conditions such as:
• Retinal detachment
• Diseases of lacrimal glands and tear ducts
• Diabetic retinopathy
• Tumors of the eye
• Inflammatory, infectious, autoimmune and allergic diseases of the eye, such as conjunctivitis, keratitis, uveitis and sclerokeratitis
They also offer laser vision corrective surgery, eyelid surgery, and keratoplasty (surgery of the cornea).
Most of these are day procedures, although you may need some follow-up appointments for some of the treatments, such as for laser surgery.
The average price of laser eye surgery in Israel is $9300, and the country is a destination for optical tourism, just as it is for dental care. Considered globally, it is not the cheapest destination for treatment, but as sight is so important, cheaper is not necessarily better. You can be confident that you will encounter top class facilities if you choose to have eye surgery in Israel.